Letters | A Quilt About Kinship from Sew Worthy Mama | Ombré Colorway

I am so excited to release this quilt pattern! It’s near and dear to my heart, and I have so much to share about its story, design, and sewing options!

“Letters” comes in two sizes (baby and throw) and two colorways (ombré and scrappy). It’s beginner and fat quarter friendly! It also includes a few bonus projects, which I’ll tell you more about below!

 

Letters: The Story Behind the Quilt

As soon as I could read and write, I began exchanging letters with my grandma—even though she only lived two houses down. I used bright Lisa Frank stationery, and Grandma usually sent me ornate cards from Punch Studio and Cynthia Hart. 

Stack of Cards

We continued writing to each other over the years—until her recent passing. Grandma also taught me how to sew and quilt, so it just felt natural for our correspondence and kinship to inspire my first quilt pattern design. 

Grandma's Letters Quilt

Years ago, Grandma made me a quilt—called “Love Letters”—that features a similar design with little open envelopes made from half square triangles. I’ve always loved it, but wanted to modernize it a bit. I adapted it to feature split quarter square triangles, which efficiently make four blocks at a time and orient the “envelope” blocks to all point in the same direction. 

Then I saw the perfect opportunity for a diagonal ombré! (Who doesn’t love a good ombré?) Even the Modern Quilt Guild agrees: this year’s community outreach quilt theme is color shifts or gradients!

Purple ombré quilt full with plant

This pattern is perfect for anyone who wants to optimize their creative time, but still wants a beautiful and interesting finished quilt at the end! It’s efficient enough to be fast, but detailed enough to create a dynamic quilt. Whether you have a full day to sew at a time or just a few minutes here and there, Letters is doable. You won’t get lost in a series of complicated steps if you need to set it down and come back later. 

Symbolically, this pattern encompasses kinship, connection, love, and taking the time to write or sew for someone special. It makes a perfect gift—wrapped up with a card tucked into the quilt and tied up with a pretty ribbon. 

And if there is a special someone who you exchange handwritten letters with, look no further… This quilt was designed especially with you in mind!

process picture

Creating Letters: Choose Your Size and Colorway

In the first stages of designing this quilt, I had a flurry of ideas. I even made a test block of a version where the triangle representing the letter inside was 3D—as if you could pull it right out to read. But…it was really complicated. I knew I had to rein that in! I wanted Letters to be simple to make. Period. 

Back at the drawing table, I found a way to use just one piecing method throughout the entire quilt! 

Complication is bad, but variety and options are good! So, I gave you two sizes and two colorways. Which is best for you? 

Size wise, you’ll probably choose between baby and throw based on the recipient or use you have planned for your quilt. 

Color wise, I’ll go through the ombré version here, but we’ll cover the scrappy version in my next post. One note about the scrappy version now, though: it’s fat quarter friendly!

***Note: Letters is beginner friendly—no matter the version or size you choose to make.

***Note: The ombré version makes a few extra blocks. Bonus projects for the extra blocks are included in the pattern! More on that later…

Full ombré on grass at barn

Ombré Colorway: Choosing Fabrics

Sometimes, choosing fabrics can be overwhelming. I mean, the fabric options are countless and the combinations are endless! 

With this pattern, what you’ll want to focus on is:

1. the contrast between your envelopes fabrics (Fabrics A-E), your letters fabric (Fabric F), and your background fabric (Fabric G) 

    AND

    2. the harmony within the five envelopes fabrics (Fabrics A-E).

    swatches

    Contrast between the background fabric and each of fabrics A-E is the most important thing in choosing your fabric palette for this quilt. If they are too similar, the envelopes won’t stand out properly. I tend toward a white or very light gray (or other neutral) for the background. The letters (Fabric F) need to contrast against the envelopes (A-E) as well. I also find that a bit of contrast between the letters (F) and background (G) is helpful, but it’s not completely necessary. 

    f and g separate from a-e

    The letters (Fabric F) are your opportunity to have a little fun and to choose something unique in this pattern! A white on white print could add a subtle hint of suggested writing to your letters. There are also many prints that literally look like letters by featuring cursive scripts or typewriter fonts. 

    One word of warning with textual prints: directional fabrics are NOT recommended. That’s because the piecing method prevents you from keeping them all facing the same direction. The triangles’ positions will turn 90 degrees as you piece and cut the split quarter square triangles. 

    Trust me here: if you pick a print, make sure it looks just as good sideways and upside down. All over Xs or plus signs would work great for the letters (Fabric F)! But, never say never–you can get away with a directional print if it’s abstract enough, but if it’s got a face with a clear top and bottom, it will be noticeable when it’s turned multiple directions.

    My purple ombré uses Art Gallery Fabric’s Deco Stitch in Cloud for the letters fabric.

    several fabrics that would be great for letters

    several fabrics that would be great for letters

    The envelope fabrics (A-E) create a diagonal ombré, and for the best effect, consider the step in tint (lighter than base color) and shade (darker than base color) between each fabric. A good rule of thumb is to make Fabric C your “middle” color which is neither light nor dark. Then, Fabric B should be slightly lighter, and A the lightest. Fabric D should be slightly darker than C, and E the darkest. 

     purple ombré fabrics with text overlay for labels

    You can find tons of ombré color inspiration on the Modern Quilt Guild’s site, and my favorite source for solid fabrics is Sewfinity. Angela stocks the full range of Robert Kauffman’s Kona Cottons, AGF Pure Solids, Moda Bella Solids, and more!

    Ombré Colorway: Another Way

    One last thought on the ombré color version: it can also be non-ombré! You could simply include more colors to create a banded diagonal design without it being monochromatic. For instance, you could choose fuschia, pink, red, orange, and yellow for a sunny summer quilt! You could also choose fabrics that coordinate with a showy letter (F) fabric. For instance, choose a floral print for Fabric F, and choose 5 coordinating solids for Fabric A-E. 

    Hint: Check the selvedge of your print for a menu of coordinating colors. That’s what those little color dots next to the collection’s name are for! 

    Add Image of selvedge color dots

    Ombré Colorway: Cover Quilt Fabrics

    My purple ombré quilt used Kona Cotton in:

    1. Orchid 
    2. Pansy
    3. Dahlia
    4. Magenta
    5. Dark Violet 

    I also used Art Gallery Fabric’s Deco Stitch in Cloud (F) and Kona White (G). The Letters pattern includes other suggestions for perfect ombré fabrics in other colors. There’s also a coloring page included!

    Ombré Colorway: Fabric Requirements

    Here’s how much fabric you’ll need to make the ombré colorway:

    Fabric Requirements

    Ombré Color Way Quilt Kits

    Olivia at Rose Petal Quilt Shop has created a beautiful, summery quilt kit for a throw size ombré Letters Quilt! It features the Cotton + Steel Under the Apple Tree collection. Quantities are limited, so don't wait to grab one! See it here.

    Creating Letters: Piecing the Blocks

    Split quarter square triangles are the best! I mean, they’re magic. You use a few squares, and then, BOOM! You have four blocks. It amazes me every time! They’re also super friendly to chain piecing. Just group your squares together, stack, and knock ‘em out! 

    Because split quarter square triangles make four blocks at a time, you will be shocked at how fast you finish every block needed. Then, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find out you have eight extra blocks to have fun with! Make a wall hanging, a pillow, or even individually quilted and bound blocks to trade with other quilters!

    You may be more familiar with quarter square triangles or hourglass blocks. Split quarter square triangles are made similarly, but result in a different block. Here’s the difference:

     qst vs sqst

    The magic of split quarter square triangle blocks is how a few simple squares become four detailed and perfectly arranged blocks in just a few simple steps!

     8 squares > 4 blocks

    Creating Letters: Finishing Your Quilt

    The pattern includes simple finishing instructions. More detailed binding how-tos will be available here soon. Be sure to sign up for my email list to make sure you hear about new posts! 

    As a bonus, the pattern also includes a printable fabric label just for the Letters Quilt! It has instructions for how to print on fabric using a basic home inkjet printer and freezer paper.

     quilt on ladder

    Creating Letters: Extra Blocks and Bonus Projects

    As I mentioned before, the ombré colorway produces eight extra blocks. The baby size makes two extra blocks each of Fabrics A-D; the throw size makes two extra blocks each of Fabrics B-E. 

    The pattern includes bonus project instructions for using up these extra blocks. You can choose to make a coordinating throw pillow to pair with your quilt, a wall hanging, table runner, or even quilt and bind individual envelope blocks to trade with other quilters!

    You can also get creative with these extra blocks. Use them to create your own design. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!  

    Be sure to tag posts with #SWMLetters so I can see them!

     

    Creating Letters: Make It Yours!

    Ultimately, every quilt pattern is a guide, and you get to choose whether to follow it to the letter (pun intended!) or make your own adjustments.  

    I hope Letters helps you get your creative juices flowing! I would absolutely love to see your fabric pulls, blocks, and quilts on Instagram! Tag your posts with #SWMLetters so I can see all your lovely makes!

    I’ll be back soon for details on the scrappy version of “Letters”!

    pile of other fabric with scissors 

    Are you ready to make this simple yet beautiful quilt pattern and enjoy your creative time? 

     Pattern mock up

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